Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Counting the Cost

Am leaving you with a few tips to make the food go that little bit further, and how to present 'normal' food in a Christmassy way.
bacon: if making bacon rolls or wrapping round sausage, make the rashers go twice as far by stretching them with the back of a knife - this makes them extra thin and they crisp up faster.
sausages: instead of serving one thick sausage per person, twist the sausage to make two fat small ones, either serve one of these per person, or let them have both - two small sausages somehow look more than one larger one.
breadcrumbs: if not already made and frozen away, crumb the bread and leave to stand overnight on a baking tray. This will cause the bread to dry out somewhat (stale) and it will make a thicker bread sauce.
breadsauce/stuffing: put a whole onion, studded with a few cloves, in a pan of milk, bring to the simmer, then turn out the heat, cover and leave overnight.
Next day remove the onion, discard the cloves, then chop the onion finely and add to home made or bought 'packet' stuffing to extend it further. Either make the stuffing into balls (these can be made now and kept chilled) or cook all the stuffing in one tin. If stuffing the bird, do this only at the neck end and allow extra cooking time for the extra weight.
chicken: improve the colour of chicken skin by either basting it with juices and a little honey, or glazing it with beaten egg just before it is removed from the oven. Make frills for the knuckle joints from greaseproof or chicken joints.
vegetables: prepare what you can on Christmas Eve. Keep chilled in bags or in water. A good assortment of vegetables means we could get away with serving less turkey as all everyone looks for is a fully loaded plate - and loads it up twice if any of you are like our lot. If there are any leftover veggies or anything for that matter, plan to use these on Boxing Day (as everyone has done since the year dot).
Serve peas in a halved satsuma shells, these look pretty placed around the bird, or on a plate by themselves. This way we can get away with serving less peas.
Cauliflower could be served in a cheese sauce. Never thought of that before, but when eating this with turkey at a local carvery, they went very well together and the whole lot can be cooked and prepared using the microwave.
Thinly sliced carrots appear more than when thickly sliced, they also take less time to cook. These taste even better when tossed in a little melted butter with a small addition of grated orange zest.
Parsnips can be par- cooked the day ahead (they cook quite rapidly) and then drained and tossed in butter, next day finish them off by cooking in the oven or on the hob if you want a caramelised effect.

If wishing to keep jugs of gravy and sauces hot, they can be made a little earlier and reheated in the microwave, or several (while still hot) stood in a large pan of simmering water - a type of hob-top 'bain marie'. If a large roasting tin is needed to hold several jugs/containers it may need placing over two burners. Cover the tops and the food will keep hot until needed.

Worth preparing several bowls of different dips: curry flavoured, hummous, garlic and cheese etc, and keeping them covered in the fridge, then when snacks are needed, just put the dips on a large tray, withopen tortilla chips or a bowl of broken cheese biscuits to use as 'dippers', plus some 'crudites' (matchstick raw veggies: carrots, bell peppers, celery etc. plus cauli florets and chunks of mushrooms...) and this will keep a roomful happy dipping away. Add a plate of sliced Stollen and a plate of mincepies and who needs to offer more.

Have A Very Happy Christmas